In every friendship, you hit a stage of growth when you will question why you are friends. Sometimes the answer is simple. Easy. Precise. Other times, it’s less certain, it feels murky and clouded. Whether it’s a 1-year friendship or a 10-year friendship, making the decision to walk away is never easy; something I am learning to accept. I have had a group of friends who have known me most of my life. They knew the naive preteen, the rebellious young adult and now they are becoming more and more acquainted with the strong-minded woman I am growing into…unfortunately, they do not understand her.
It started as small things: differences in interests, changes in appearance or the new and “different” friends. I began to push myself into causes and activism; they began to enjoy more of the party life and relationships. I focused on my long term goals and ideals, they invested in vacations and living in the moment. I found myself becoming more and more involved in the things that brought me passion; and through that growth, I began to feel myself pulling away from them.
I stopped going out to clubs, bars, and parties; I started going to bed early, spending more time with my family, rediscovering my love for painting and attending functions that revolved around my community- instead of bottomless mimosas and weekend hangovers. I traded my stilettos for sensible boots, my one night stands for stability and self-respect, and my addiction to Cosmo for a subscription to the New York Times. These things, as it turned out, were causes for outrage.
Suddenly I wasn’t the fun, badass girl they had loved- I was the boring, serious girl who was too elitist and too involved. We stopped seeing eye to eye on many things; what I viewed as serious, they saw as boring. What they valued as crucial, I saw as trivial. It’s hard to continue a friendship when you lead totally different lives, but it’s damn near impossible when you fail to understand each other.
I’ve had other friends ask me about my “old” friends, why I hung out with them, why I defended them- but the question that made me re-evaluate the relationship was “how do they enrich your life?”, I didn’t have a defense for them anymore. I couldn’t refute that question because the answer was simple. They didn’t. They didn’t understand me, they didn’t support me and they certainly didn’t challenge me for the better. If anything, they held me in place.
Don’t get me wrong here, I still love those people. I still wish them nothing but the best in life and I hope they find whatever it is that makes them happy. I just know that our friendship is no longer one of those things. I will always be thankful for the memories and experiences that they gave me because they shaped me into who I am. They gave me the foundation to become the person I want to be. And I think that was their value, they showed me how to grow.
At the end of the day, it wasn’t something they had done or said that led me to this decision. It was me. I was the catalyst that changed our dynamic. They stayed exactly who they were from the beginning, but it was me who changed. It was me who began to pull away. It was me that left them. But I’m not sorry for it.
Since making that decision my life is better. That sounds so pompous and cruel. But it’s true. I have friends who understand me. I have friends that challenge me to be both strong and loving. I have friends that can enjoy my company as is. I have friends who support this person I becoming, and what’s more, they don’t just tolerate her, they love me for becoming her. My hope for those old friends is that they find new people who do the same for them.